Arab world's first commercial N-reactor to be ready by 2020
Christer Viktorsson, director-general of the FANR, told reporters that the regulator is currently waiting for the "readiness declaration".-Supplied photo
Abu Dhabi - The nuclear waste from the power plant will be stored in fuel pools for 10-20 years and then in "dry" storage for 60 additional years.
The first commercial reactor in the Arab world will be ready to operate before 2020, announced the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) on Wednesday.
Christer Viktorsson, director-general of the FANR, told reporters in the Capital that the regulator is currently waiting for the "readiness declaration" from the plant's operator, which is in line with "the best" international practices.
He said that once Barakah Unit 1 is declared ready, it will undergo inspection and a minimum of six months of testing, before it can begin the commercial operations.
"We are not ready to give the operating licence yet, but we are getting there," he added.
Moreover, the reactor will start loading fuel after the operating licence has been declared, he explained.
Viktorsson explained that the nuclear waste from the power plant will be stored in fuel pools for 10-20 years and then in "dry" storage for 60 additional years.
The government, however, has yet to announce the waste management policy.
Viktorsson also revealed key milestones the FANR achieved in 2018, as well as a number of overall goals for 2019.
"As the UAE is moving rapidly forward with developing its nuclear sector, the FANR has made notable progress in 2018 in terms of honouring the UAE's commitments under the 2008 policy on Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy."
He said the FANR's mission is to protect the public and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation.
"Our vision is to be globally recognised as a leading nuclear regulator," he added.
He explained that the FANR's 2017-2021 Corporate Strategy goals are to ensure the peaceful, safe and secure use of nuclear energy and radiation sources, as well as to develop sustainability of the UAE regulatory infrastructure.
Barakah Nuclear Power Plant
The FANR is currently reviewing the operating licence application, which was made by Nawah Energy Company for Units 1 and 2 of the Barakah in Al Dhafra.
He said that in 2018, the FANR conducted over 22 inspections related to Barakah.
"Such inspections included verification of the licencee's operator training and certification programme and organisational readiness for Unit 1 operations, cyber security, nuclear fuel storage as well as other requirements."
He added that the operating licence will be issued when the operator meets all regulatory requirements.
The operating licence application for Units 3 and 4 was received in March 2017 and its review will commence after the licence has been authorised for Unit 1.
Licences and inspections
Viktorsson said the authority has also conducted regulatory programmes for areas where radiation applications are used, including in medical and industrial entities.
He revealed that the FANR issued 413 licences this year to conduct activities using regulated material in different fields. The authority also issued 70 licences related to the transfer of nuclear material.
Viktorsson said the FANR's vigorous inspection programme continued throughout the year, and by November 2018, the authority had carried out over 616 inspections across the UAE.
"The inspections covered facilities using regulated nuclear or radioactive items, medical and industrial facilities."
"The FANR observed that its activities have led to an improvement of the safety culture in the country."
The director-general said the FANR's mission for 2019 is straightforward as mandated by the UAE government, which is to protect the public and the environment from radiation risks.
He said next year will witness the transition to operations phase of Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, spent fuel management policy, strengthening national and international cooperation.
"We reiterate our commitment towards ensuring a safe, secure and peaceful nuclear energy programme, as well as protecting the people and the environment of the UAE."